Of cheatsheets and infographics

I recently updated my Illustration portfolio with infographics which I made that reference shortcuts that help get you familiar with certain software. It started after I had a course using 3D Studio MAX. After a month or so of not using the software, I forgot a lot of the shortcuts which helped make it easier to model what I want. I had some notes written somewhere and I did pick it up again, but it bothered me that I could not find some kind of reference sheet that helped a user get back up to speed without flooding them with too much information. 

I should mention that you may download the full printable sizes of these references/cheatsheets by saving the images below.

Anyways, it dawned on me that I could create these simple infographics which may be printed out as a reference as a way to quickly be familiar with the software again. I used an OFL font called TitilliumText for the text since that had quite a nice feel and look on screen and printed, as opposed to something bolder with thicker stems.

After making one for 3DSMAX and leaving it for what seems like a year, I decided to redo it so that there are clearer columns (in halves or thirds) which made information easier to seek and made it easier on the eyes. The colored boxes were now also used very selectively, and I decided early on that there can only be 4 colored boxes. The simplicity here is that your eyes could quickly locate a certain color without much hassle.

I made one for openCanvas because I was so accustomed to using Photoshop shortcuts and needed something to remind me that there are a few discrepancies. For Toucan I needed a reference which had diagrams that explained the operations to me simply. I kept forgetting what the differences were between Copy, Mirror and Clean, as well as what Equalise meant. And eventually I also wanted to create a reference specifically for painting in Photoshop. There were some tricks that I wanted to make a habit, so having them in the reference helped make that happen.

Doing these have made me interested in how information is organized and processed. There are minor things which had to be considered as well in order for these references to be useful. Like how much space can I get away with between the shortcut and it’s description? Can a user quickly spot an item’s shortcut between other shortcut information? As you may notice, the columns interlock a little with one another and there had to be some consideration in how to make that work without making the infographic hard to read. Grouping information and how to make the infographic as a whole interesting was also carefully considered.

For something like Toucan, as there isn’t many items to place, it felt odd to leave it with just a table of information. I decided that the Toucan logo should be there to help make the infographic interesting. The problem is that this was in Illustrator and there wasn’t a logo of Toucan that you could print out without it going pixely. So I made a vector image of the Toucan to use. Fitting it in the bottom right felt the most correct location as it isn’t important information and is simply there to offset the amount of text being used.

I may continue making these in future as a whole series of these may be helpful to someone out there. For now I felt like sharing my experience of making these and the infographics themselves.

You may also like